Yacht Moonshine on fire

Monday 10 September 2016

Location: 5 miles East of Zone Point

Weather: E 3, Slight and Swell, Good Visibility, Sunny Periods

Inshore lifeboat (Launched 14:48 / Returned 16:25) – Claire Angove (Helmsman), Adam West, Josh Williams

All-weather lifeboat (Launched 14:50 / Returned 19:40) – Luke Wills (2nd Coxswain), Carl Beardmore, Dave Nicoll, Andy Jenkin, Jonathan Hackwell, Jack Chuter


At 14:42 Falmouth Coastguard requested that both Falmouth All Weather and Inshore Lifeboats be launched following a call from the single occupant of the 11m yacht Moonshine which was 5 miles East of Zone Point reporting a fire in the forward cabin. The Coastguard Helicopter was also diverted from an exercise to assist.

The Inshore Lifeboat launched from her slipway at 14:48 followed shortly afterwards by the All Weather Lifeboat which left its pontoon berth at 14:50. Both lifeboats made best speed and having rounded Zone Point headed to the last know position for the yacht. The helicopter arrived on scene at 14:54 and confirmed that the single occupant was stood on the vessels stern but as the yacht still had its sails up and there was no fire visible they would standby to await the arrival of the Inshore Lifeboat. The helicopter advised that it could see using its FLIR a significant heat source on the port side of the vessel so when the Inshore Lifeboat arrived on scene at 15:08 it approached from the other side and quickly recovered the casualty and having checked that no medical assistance was required the helicopter was released to attend another incident.

The All Weather Lifeboat arrived on scene at 15:11 and the casualty was transferred to the lifeboat. As the yacht was continuing to sail towards the shore and having monitored it for a period of time two lifeboat crew from the All Weather Lifeboat were transferred to the yacht by the Inshore Lifeboat so they could drop its sails, close all hatches and connect a tow line, before they were removed again. The yacht was under tow by 15:40 and was taken towards Falmouth so at 16:08 the Inshore Lifeboat was released to return to its station although it remained on standby at the station until 18:15 in case it was required to assist again. As the harbour authorities had concerns over the yacht being brought into the harbour it was taken into the shelter of the Lighthouse at 17:20 where they remained until members of the Fire Brigade were brought out in the harbour launch at 18:15 to check the yacht and then extinguish the fire. Once this had been completed at 18:57 the yacht was towed into Falmouth Inner Harbour and placed alongside the County Wharf Pontoon in the Docks where further Fire Units were waiting. The All Weather Lifeboat was released to return to its station at 19:35.

The Inshore Lifeboat was recovered onto its slipway at 16:25 while the All Weather Lifeboat arrived back alongside its pontoon berth at 19:40, where it was refuelled and ready for service by 20:05.

The yachts skipper having located the fire below had wisely not attempted to fight the fire due to its intensity and the acrid smoke. Thanks to his actions and those of the lifeboat crew not only was his life saved the boat was also safely recovered although it did suffer extensive damage in the forward section.